American Univesity of Beirut

The University Libraries participates in a symposium on Arabic manuscripts held on the occasion of the 200th birthday of Johann Gottfried Wetzstein (1815–1905), a Prussian orientalist and diplomat

​​​​​The University Libraries’ Archives Librarian, Mrs. Samar Mikati, and the Head of the Archives and Special collections, Dr. Kaoukab Chebaro were invited to deliver a paper at the international symposium entitled “Studies on Johann Gottfried Wetzstein (1815-1905): Manuscripts, Politics and Oriental Studies” which was held at the Staatsbibliothek zu, Berlin between the 19th and 21st of February, 2015. The symposium was inaugurated with a keynote lecture by François Déroche (Paris): “The Qur’anic collections acquired by Wetzstein”, and prominent speakers included, among others, Robert Irwin (London): “The Arabist and Consul in Damascus Sir Richard Burton and the problematic nature of his translation of The Thousand and One Nights”; Jan Just Witkam (Leiden): “Wetzstein’s manuscripts with popular stories”; Boris Liebrenz (Leipzig): “Wetzstein as a broker of Arabic prints in Syria”; Walid Salih (Toronto): “The Fantastic literature in medieval Islam”: “Wetzstein II 1173” Kitāb al-ʿazamah as an example”; Christoph Rauch (Berlin): “Orientalists at the Royal Library in Berlin and the big Islamic cataloguing projects of the 19th century”.


Mikati and Chebaro’s paper was entitled: “Manuscript ownership and readership at the American University of Beirut at the turn of the 20th century”. The paper tries to reconstruct the history and provenance of the AUB Manuscript collection and to trace some of the usages to which the manuscripts were put to at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Relying on ledgers of accession records, on syllabi and class reading lists at the Syrian Protestant College, as well as on ownership and readership marks of selected items, the paper tries to chart a comparative and multi-faceted history of manuscript readership and usage in the region, at this period, hinting at significant (and lasting) changes, in terms of custody and audience. The proceedings of the Conference will be published in an upcoming volume of Arabica, the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies/Revue d’études Arabes et Islamiques, published by Brill. http://library.aub.edu.lb/record=b1199776~S1​

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